World powers met in London yesterday to discuss a package of incentives and threats drafted by European countries aimed at defusing a crisis over Iran's nuclear programme.
Iran's president, however, insisted on Iran's right to a full range of nuclear technology and Britain said it did not expect the meeting to achieve a breakthrough.
Senior officials from UN Security Council permanent members China, Russia, the United States, France and Britain, plus Germany, tried to narrow divisions over how they should persuade Teheran to halt its uranium enrichment work.
"(The officials) are not really anticipating that today will be the final meeting," British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett told reporters. "It will be a key meeting today but I suspect it won't be the final meeting."
The head of Russia's atomic energy agency, Sergei Kiryenko, had said earlier in Washington he hoped for a "major breakthrough" at the London meeting.
Iran said it is developing nuclear technology for civilian power generation and Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a defiant message.
"Using nuclear energy is Iran's right," Ahmadinejad told a rally in a speech broadcast live on state television.
One EU diplomat said it was hard to see what the London meeting, which started yesterday evening local time, could achieve.
"It's really just an academic exercise, since the Iranians have made it clear that they won't accept any offer."
The package is likely to include an offer of a light-water reactor and an assured supply from abroad of fuel for civilian atomic plants so Iran would not have to enrich uranium itself.
Enriched uranium can be used as a nuclear fuel, but is also a key component of atomic weapons.
The package will also warn of possible sanctions if Iran, the world's fourth-biggest oil producer, refuses the offer.
Diplomats say they would first discuss targeted sanctions, such as visa bans on officials involved in the nuclear programme, before seeking ways of curtailing trade deals.
The Washington Post, citing US officials, Iranian analysts and foreign diplomats, reported that Iran was making explicit requests for direct talks with the United States.
The State Department declined to give an immediate comment.
Senior Iranian officials have asked intermediaries to make clear to Washington their appetite for direct talks, the newspaper said.
Source: China Daily